Bath City (0) 2 Bromley (2) 2 – Tuesday 20 December 2022 – FA Trophy 3rd Round – Twerton Park
(City win 5-4 on penalties)
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
A barnstorming comeback saw Bath City dump holders Bromley out of the FA Trophy in a penalty shootout.
The National League side appeared to have a place in round four assured following first half goals from Byron Webster and Corey Whitely.
But two early Christmas gifts from the same players allowed the Romans a way back with Scott Wilson and substitute Rex Mannings capitalising, the latter in added time, to take the tie to penalties.
Harry Forster blazed Bromley’s fifth kick over which gave Dan Greenslade the opportunity to win the contest, and he duly obliged with minimum fuss.
Such an outcome seemed scarcely believable some two hours previous.
City started positively with Dan Hayfield testing Bromley stopper Tom Smith early on, but they fell behind on 12 minutes.
Adam Marriott’s dangerous free-kick from the left took a nick on the way through and landed perfectly onto the boot of unmarked captain Webster, who touched home first time at the far post past Ryan Clarke.
The City goalkeeper coach, a former teammate of Argentina World Cup winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, was back in the side in place of cup tied Josh Gould, and was forced to pick the ball out of the net again 10 minutes later.
Opposite number one Smith floated a diagonal to Whitely, who cut inside of Joe Raynes and unleashed a powerful shot from the corner of the penalty area, with the ball taking a wicked bounce to beat the Romans keeper all ends up.
A vital challenge from Kieran Parselle prevented Michael Cheek a third as he bore down on goal. Cheek, Bromley’s matchwinner at Wembley in May, was proving a handful for the home defence as the Ravens looked confident, highlighting the divisional gap between the sides.
A strong end to the half gave City hope. Raynes, on his 150th outing, flashed a cross from the right which just evaded City’s Tom Smith from poking the ball past his namesake, with Wilson also unable to connect.
Louis Dennis’ free-kick right on half-time required Clarke to dive full stretch to keep it out in what proved to be a pivotal save.
Jerry Gill replaced the unwell Callum Ebanks at the break with defender Jack Batten on to match the visitors’ 3-5-2 formation, and it paid dividends.
Wilson had earlier been denied by Whitely’s superb last-ditch tackle, but the defending from Andy Woodman’s men to allow City back into the game just before the hour was at the other end of the scale.
Greenslade’s ball forward appeared harmless but Webster inexplicably attempted a backpass to Smith, unaware that Wilson was dangerously lurking. The switched-on striker accepted the present, rounded the stopper and tapped into the empty net.
James Morton fizzed an effort inches over as City huffed and puffed, introducing another attacking option in Mannings for Smith.
Fellow substitute Luke Spokes failed to fully connect with Chris Lines’ corner when well placed and it appeared Bath wouldn’t carve out a better opening to force penalties. Instead, Bromley created one for them in additional time.
It was another careless backpass that did the damage. Whitely’s intended pass for Smith was seized upon by the hard-working Greenslade, who played the ball back from the byline to Mannings. With the keeper away from his goal, Mannings still had to shimmy inside before blasting past Omar Sowunmi on the line from 10 yards.
With replays scrapped in the FA Trophy in 2020 it meant a penalty shootout, a method Bromley progressed from in last year’s round four whereas City had lost 10 of 12 shootouts in their history, including a round two meeting with Dartford last year.
Bromley went first and each team converted their first four kicks – James Vennings, Dennis, Whitely and Sowunmi for the visitors, matched with similar calmness from Lines, Wilson, Spokes and Mannings for City.
Substitute Forster then blasted his kick over the bar and allowed Greenslade the chance to send his side through.
He showed nerves of steel, sending Smith the wrong way and guiding City into a round four tie at Bracknell Town to conclude a memorable evening.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Hayfield (Spokes 78), Smith (Mannings 86), Lines, Wilson, Morton, Ebanks (Batten HT). Sub not used: Ford.
Scorers: City – Wilson (59), Mannings (90+2); Bromley – Webster (11), Whitely (21)
City Bookings: none
Officials: W Cartmel, B Williamson, J Welsh